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Millions Attend This Year’s Oktoberfest in Bavaria, Germany

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Germany’s world-famous Oktoberfest kicked off Saturday with the traditional tapping of the first barrel of beer, as millions of revellers are set to soak up the frothy atmosphere in the 16-day annual extravaganza.

Oktoberfest 2014

With the cry of “O’zapft is” (“The keg is tapped”), the amber fluid began to flow at noon after Munich’s mayor, Dieter Reiter, with due pomp and ceremony, took a mallet and in four swings breached a 200-litre (53-gallon) barrel.

The first litre-size mug, the “Mass”, went to the head of the Bavaria regional government, Horst Seehofer.

Fourteen giant tents set up in the centre of Munich filled up quickly with people eager to imbibe the slighty stronger than usual beer after watching a rain-dampened parade of the brewers through the city’s streets.

“Oktoberfest is very famous, everyone in the world knows about it. We wanted to see it and now I can tell my friends I’ve been too,” said Moran Chen, 26, originally from Hong Kong but now living in Berlin.

At the festival site on the Wiesn fairgrounds thousands of serving staff carry millions of “Mass” glasses of beer from one of six historic Munich breweries to punters seated at long tables.

Last year more than six million visitors drank 6.7 million litre-sized mugs of beer — more than twice the volume of an Olympic swimming pool — during the whole festival run.

The price of the beer always touches off a debate and in some tents this year it will creep over the 10-euro mark for the first time — to 10.10 euros ($13), according to officials.

It all helps wash down the salty giant soft pretzels, dumplings, pork and grilled sausages that provide the customary hearty accompaniment.

For Johanna Kriessl, a 53-year-old from Frankfurt now living in Munich, its magic is the “super, nice atmosphere” and “the tradition of the tracht”, referring to the traditional Bavarian costume.

Oktoberfest customs call for the wearing of classic southern Bavarian dress — a dirndl, or low-cut blouse with a laced-up bodice and aproned full skirt for women, and the lederhosen leather shorts with embroidered braces for men.

‘Not German but Bavarian’

Foreign tourists, led by Italians and Americans, flock to Munich to enjoy the merriment, but the festival remains largely a Bavarian event with more than 70 percent of visitors hailing from the southern state.

“For us it is wonderful for the whole Bavarian nation to gather together in such a small space,” said Munich resident Barbara Huber, 50.

And she was insistent that the festival should not be seen as quintessentially German. “No, it’s Bavarian, it’s Munich.”

It does, however, draw plenty of German celebrities and stars of the TV screen and soccer field, who are often photographed, glass of beer in hand.

The Oktoberfest, originally held in October as the name suggests but brought forward to September to take advantage of warmer weather, began in 1810 to mark the marriage of the prince of Bavaria to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen.

This year is the 181st edition of the legendary festival which was cancelled during two cholera outbreaks, both world wars, Napoleon’s invasion of Bavaria and the hyperinflation of the 1920s.

It has since been exported around the world and versions of the festival can be found as far afield as China, Brazil, Canada, the United States, Russia and Australia.

This year’s event runs to October 5.

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The Ultimate American Road Trip: Route 66

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route 66

If you’re looking for the omega American road trip then you’ve got to hit the Mother Road, otherwise known as Route 66. From Chicago to LA, it’s a journey that’ll provide the experience of a lifetime, showing you the heart of a great nation.

Start in Chicago & Chase the Sun

In reality, the best always head west. Would you rather end the trip in the Windy City, or just in time to catch a gorgeous L.A. sunset on the beach? There’s just something deeply spiritual for folks when we head west. It becomes an adventure. It becomes a vehicular voyage to the sea. Here are some of the highlights you can expect in order:

Illinois: It’s a pretty straight shot through the state from Chicago through Springfield (which has some stretches of restored Route 66) and southwest to St. Louis. There’s a bit of the bright lights of big cities, but also a good calm stretch of rural to cruise through as well; vast fields of corn and farmland for close to 300 miles.

Missouri: Once you hit East St. Louis you’ll again be greeted by sky scrapers, industrial areas and the mark of modernity but then it’s another SE straight shot through the entire belly of the state.

Kansas: You’re only going to spend a little time in the good’ol Kansas heartland. And by little we mean a whopping 14 miles far down in the bottom south east corner. You’ll go through two towns: Galena and Baxter Springs but rest assured there’s great classic restaurants and places that’ve been open as long as Route 66 has been around. In fact, it’s because of road tripper like you just passin’on through that keep’em goin.

Oklahoma: You’re going to go through two huge metropolises that have “country” written all over’em: Tulsa first and then into Oklahoma City before heading directly west towards the Pan Handle. Of all 8 states, it’s here that they take Route 66 the most seriously. It’s got the most preserved still-drivable miles and you’ll be able to see the remnants of Kiowa, Apache and Comanche Native American land. And, you’ll get to take the same route as families long ago in the Dust Bowl took to escape.

Texas: You’re going to go through the upper tip of the Texas Pan Handle that takes you through Amarillo. It looks short on a map but the 200-mile stretch of plains is a sight to behold like none other. If you can time it so you cut through here in the afternoon on a sunny day your spirit will be recharged. Just try not to pay any attention to all the truckers!

New Mexico: Welcome to the Land of Enchantment where you’ll pass through Sun Belt city and Albuquerque. These days, it can be a bit challenging to stay strictly on the old road but with all the sandstone mesas and pine forests it’s definitely worth it.

Arizona: In Arizona you’ll stay in the northern plains rather than heading down into the really hot areas around Phoenix. Instead, you’ll pass directly through Flagstaff which is a mountain town and where Northern Arizona University is located. The sights here are like a completely different world from everything you’ve seen so far, especially once you begin to head south right before passing into California. Oh, and because of the high speeds on the I-40, this will feel like one of those awesome car track days.

California: Once you reach this point get ready to cruise through rolling hills, vineyards, orchards, stunning landscapes and then at Barstow you should begin smelling the sea. From San Bernardino and Pasadena to Santa Monica it’s simply breathtaking.

This is only a taste of the experience really. You’ve just got to get out and do it. There’s plenty of great resources online to keep you on track and if you have the time you don’t have to miss a thing. Enjoy!

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Key Moments from Trump’s Impeachment Hearing

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Trump's Impeachment
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Heartbreaking; Another School Shooting Santa Clarita, CA

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Santa Clarita School SHooting

Santa Clarita, California, high school shooting leaves 2 students dead, multiple injured

SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (KABC) — A 16-year-old boy shot five fellow students, two fatally, Thursday morning at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita before turning the .45-caliber handgun on himself, authorities said.

A Los Angeles County Fire Department spokesperson said multiple 911 calls prompted firefighter-paramedics to respond about 7:40 a.m. to the school at 21900 Centurion Way.

Six students, including the gunman, were found in the quad suffering from gunshot wounds, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference. All six were transported to hospitals, where two of them, a 16-year-old girl and a 14-year-old boy, were later pronounced dead.

The surviving victims were described as two girls, ages 14 and 15, and a 14-year-old boy.

In a tweet, Henry Mayo Hospital said it had received four patients.

Their names were not immediately disclosed. The sheriff said the deceased girl’s parents were at the hospital. He was notified of the second fatality during a press conference at the school.

Gunman turns .45 caliber on himself

According to sheriff’s Capt. Kent Wegener, surveillance video “clearly” shows the suspect pulling a semi-automatic handgun out of his backpack in the quad and shooting five classmates before shooting himself in the head.

Thursday was the gunman’s 16th birthday, the captain said.

He was listed in grave condition at a hospital, according to Villanueva.

In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, authorities released a description of the suspect as a manhunt got underway. Heavily armed deputies and an armored SWAT vehicle were seen at a home near the school, but it was unclear if the house was connected to the investigation.

The high school remained on lockdown for hours after the incident. Shortly before 11 a.m., lockdowns were lifted at all campuses in the district, as well as Rosedell and Highland elementary schools.

Central Park, at 27150 Bouquet Canyon Road, was being used as a reunification point for parents and students, the Sheriff’s Department said.

Undersheriff Tim Murakami tweeted an apology to parents, saying investigators need to interview “every student at Saugus HS” before they can be released.

In a statement, the White House said President Donald Trump was monitoring ongoing reports about the shooting.

“The White House encourages all those in the area to follow the advice of local law enforcement and first responders,” the statement said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom tweeted an expression of gratitude to the emergency responders.

“We simply should not have to fear for our kids’ lives when we drop them off at school,” the governor said. Addressing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Newsom asked: “How many more lives will be lost? How many more shootings will we have to endure? We need commonsense gun reform. NOW.”

Amid the chaos at the scene, the number of reported victims fluctuated throughout the morning. The sheriff later confirmed that six people were shot, including the gunman.


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